Who the hell are you?

7 Mar

Getting to the core of your personal brand

15 Minutes of Dame #1 By Dixie Laite

“Know thyself.” —Socrates*

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. You’ve heard it before.

But there’s a good reason people are always yammering away about knowing yourself. After “be kind,” it’s about the most important job you have, a job that should precede any talk about paying jobs. It may sound corny, it may be corny, but it’s still true: You can’t begin to follow your bliss, build your brand, or even be truly happy until you figure out who you are—and who you aim to be.

Easier said than done, I know. Let’s start with me.

Who am I, and how does this affect my personal brand and overall well-being?

There are some incontrovertible facts I know about myself:

• I love animals.

• I have an encyclopedic knowledge of ’30s and ’40s movies.

• I like scouring flea markets for cool vintage femorabilia.

• I shop online waaay too much.

• I’m physically and emotionally incapable of eating only one Pop-Tart.

In terms of my work life, I’ve been a teacher, writer, editor, public speaker and personal trainer. I take some things very seriously, but not many and certainly not myself.

This is a start, but we need to take this (seemingly) disparate information and explore how this adds up to who uniquely I am and what I uniquely have to offer.

But enough about me, let’s talk about you. (Not for too long, though…then we’ll get back to me.)

Step 1: Describe Thyself

Now you try it.

If you were to describe yourself to a total stranger, what are the three or four things you’d say? (It’s important that you have no agenda with this stranger; I admit if I were, say, trying to date this stranger, I’d probably skew the data quite a bit, but that won’t help you in this exercise, and it won’t help me down the line with that stranger either.)

For now, ignore your appearance unless that’s an integral part of who you are (covered in tattoos, purple Mohawk, etc.) and focus on the qualities, passions, experience and skills that make you uniquely you. Write at least two sentences, but no more than four. Jot it down on a cocktail napkin if you have to. And now…

Step 2: What Matters to You?

Play Q&A with yourself. Think about the following questions, and write a sentence or three to answer:

• What are your values?

• What do you really care about?

• For what do you stand?

• What qualities are important to you in a friend, in a co-worker?

• What virtues do you consistently maintain, and which, in your humble opinion, are totally let slide-able?

• What gets you bent out of shape?

• How do you insist upon dealing with other people, where are you the most helpful, and whom is it you’d most like to serve?

The answers to these questions represent your core values—a huge component of your personal brand.

For me, kindness is big in my book, and I’m always trying to be helpful and affectionate, just short of being a little creepy. I like inspiring and celebrating others, especially women.

Step 3: The Fun Part

So now you know you’re a detail-oriented and unfailingly honest perfectionist who wants to help the underserved become more “green”-aware.

For this next exercise, your challenge is to create a list of 20 words that describe you. Need help? Click here to get your juices flowing. Think about who you truly are, who you strive to be and how you’d like to be perceived—and write down your 20 words. I’ll wait.

Now that you’ve got your list of 20 descriptors, I want you to narrow down that list to 10 words. I’ll wait.

Tough, but now that you’ve refined your list, you’re getting closer to the core of who you are and how you operate in the world.

Now we’re ready to hone your brand even further. If you could only choose four of these 10 words to describe yourself, which would you choose? You’re on a serious word budget now, so we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty of what makes you you.

It wasn’t easy, but you’ve selected your four precious “you” words—words that will help you define your personal brand. You’ve also given some thought to what you care about and have to offer and even how you might want to offer it. Now what?

For next time:

In my next column (to be published Wednesday, March 21), I’ll show you how I created my own personal list, and we’ll compare notes. Then, we’re going to take what you’ve done and turn it into a personal brand description and mission statement to guide you on to the next stages of building a brand identity and eventually a brand experience.

Please email me (at diydamedixie@gmail.com) your own descriptor, defining words and what kind of business you’re in/starting/thinking about, and I’ll help as many of you as possible to take what you’ve got and fashion it into clear, actionable brand and mission statements.

*Or maybe it was Charlene Tilton—it’s a little fuzzy.

This is the first episode of “15 Minutes of Dame,” a column to help you create, develop and promote the living crap out of your own personal brand. Dixie Laite has been putting the “broad” in broadcasting for over 20 years, working in television, online, print and marketing for a variety of household name brands. She is currently Senior Editorial Director for TeenNick and also freelances as a writer, speaker and digital content strategist. Dixie’s column is published every other Wednesday on diybusinessassociation.com. Follow Dixie @DameStyle, email her at diydamedixie@gmail.com and post your suggestions in Comments below.

4 Responses to “Who the hell are you?”

  1. jenojenny March 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    Can’t wait to read the next installment of your witty how-to on branding, Dame Dixie!

    • fromraewithlove June 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

      I really loved this article! I just got back from a blogging conference (Blogging While Brown)and more than ever I knew I needed to really understand my brand. Somehow, by Googling branding yesterday I ended up here and voila!!! This is an amazing series and I love your writing style. I got it down to five words!!! (yay me). So I am on to read the remaining articles now.

      • Amy Schroeder June 7, 2012 at 1:54 am #

        Awesome, fromraewithlove! We’d love to hear about your 5 words, and we’d love to learn more about your projects. —Amy Cuevas Schroeder, Founder DIY Business Association

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Physician, brand thyself: The 20/10/4 Personal Brand Words Exercise | DIY Business Association - March 21, 2012

    [...] my last column, “Who the Hell Are You?,” I suggested you do an exercise of choosing words to describe yourself—your values, strengths [...]

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